Disclaimer: I do not own Jackie Chan Adventures, it is the property of the respective owners. I'm just playing with their property.
It was a cold day in February, the wind blowing in a way that cut through layers of clothing and raised the hair in goose bumps. Jade had arrived courtesy of Dark Hand Air, hiding out in the aircraft's cargo area after following the thugs from their respective breakouts of Section 13. Not wanting to get caught when she was so close, she chose to go in a direction that would take her to a good view along the walls. The place looked like a feudal lord's castle, well preserved, without all the moss, vines, and other pieces of plant life, like something out of a story book; it was nothing like any of the places she'd traveled to with Jackie. Those ruins had a sense of history, as if time had its way and slowly broke them down like a man wracked with old age. This was more like meeting a renaissance actor while going to buy some groceries from the local grocery store. Still, if traveling with Jackie had taught Jade anything about the world, it didn't matter if they were up against an international crime ring with the latest tech, or a dragon with magic shadow ninja – when it comes down to a fight, always bet on Jackie.
Jade heard a lot of noise coming from the courtyard; going to the top of the wall she realized she might have to amend that opinion against a twenty-foot dragon with twelve magic talismans. Jackie was running at a wall full speed, running up it as a too fast giant monster crashed head first in to it. Jackie got enough altitude, and springing off the wall onto Shendu's back, he pushed his hands down on it. The green glow was hidden for a second, as if Jackie's hands had been buried in that scaly flesh; jumping back on the ground and rolling up to his feet, Jackie looked at his hand before pointing the talisman at Shendu. A blue ray came out of his hand to turn the fierce dragon in to an ugly green bunny. Jade marveled at what she had just seen – Jackie had found some way to get the Talismans out of Shendu, and with the Monkey Talisman had turned Shendu into a far less formidable threat.
But just because Jackie had pulled out one didn't mean the fight was over. Shendu still had many more talismans, which he was quick to use as the rabbit's eyes lit up and yellow beams shot out – heat rays from the Pig Talisman, which Jackie narrowly avoided thanks to his quick moves. A section of wall gave a stark example to how dangerous this rabbit still was, as it was blown away; Jade was glad that she hadn't been over there. The rabbit turned invisible from the Snake Talisman and Jackie looked around frantically, readying himself for an attack, but he was not expecting the Monkey Talisman that he had used to transform Shendu into a bunny to be so quickly pulled from his hands. Looking on impotently, Jackie watched as the monkey talisman floated up in to the air to be caught in Shendu's mouth.
"It's the Chinese Zodiac hit parade," Jade said to herself.
With a flash of light, Shendu had returned to his true form. Letting out a great roar, he pointed the talisman at Jackie and bellowed, "Monkey see, Monkey do!"
Jackie jumped forward and to the side, causing the ray to miss him and hit the stone statue on the wall behind him, which was changed from an odd statue of a man with a mane and tail to a monkey with a handlebar mustache. Keeping the momentum of his jump, he tumbled through the air and along the ground between Shendu's legs, his hand shooting out and passing through the demon's knee. Feeling it would be better for her to be closer to the action where she might be able to help, Jade sprinted along the wall until she came to a set of steps that went down to the courtyard. Keeping her eyes on the action, she watched as Shendu let out another set of beams from his eyes, only for Jackie to make an impossibly high jump into the air and corkscrew his body to redirect his momentum to kick Shendu in the chest. The dragon tipped over and hit the ground hard, his scales scrapping against the ground, lifting up dust in the air as his body slid across the ground. Jackie landed on his feet though dropped to one knee.
Jade decided to get his attention, "The strength talisman. Good one Jackie."
Jackie smiled and gave a small nod. "I know Jade – wahh! ? Jade, how did you…?"
Jade could hear the confusion in Jackie's voice, but after all they'd been through, he really should have seen this coming – Jade wasn't one to be left out when she could help it. Instead, she focused on Jackie's glowing green hands, which looked like they'd been covered in glow in the dark paint. Pointing at the hand, Jade exclaimed, "Your hands, I get it; that must be some kind of Uncle Magic that…"
Jade wouldn't be able to finish that statement as Shendu's massive hand grabbed Jackie and lifted him into the air, with a speed that implied he was using the Rabbit Talisman still.
"Ugh, talk later," Jackie said as he was lifted up and away.
Holding tightly to the Ox Talisman, Jackie called on its power and broke Shendu's grip, but as he started falling to the ground, the demon closed its fist again and snagged Jackie's arm. Jackie tried to strike the arm and break free, but Shendu was quicker and Jackie's other arm was captured, leaving them squaring off against each other like two sumo wrestlers in a match.
"The playing field is almost even Shendu," Jackie taunted, trying to move the dragon.
"You may have the Ox, but relative to me, all that makes you is a very strong mouse," Shendu pulled Jackie's arms down to his side and Shendu let his claws slide down around Jackie's legs, before lifting him off the ground and shaking him so all the talismans that Jackie had acquired during the fight fell to the ground, along with a bottle containing a green glowing liquid. Shendu's entire focus was on Jackie, as he moved purposefully towards the portal in the center of the courtyard, an ominous ring of fire with large monstrous heads emerging, snapping at the air. Jackie struggled to break free, but the demon's strength was too much for him to overcome.
"No, mom and dad, all of Asia is counting on you," Jade watched in fear as the only hope of victory was led towards his doom. Suddenly, the bottle bounced against the ground but did not break, and rolled up to Jade's feet; picking up the bottle she had a realization, "And me."
Pouring the remaining potion on her hands, and hoping it didn't call for anything more than that, she sprinted after Shendu even as he raised Jackie up as an offering to the glowing portal in the sky. Jade picked up the fallen talismans as she ran as hard as she could to reach Jackie in time.
"Pity you will not live to see my reign over your world, but you shall be the first to visit theirs."
Jade couldn't stand it anymore, and activating the strength talisman, she launched herself through the air, letting out a mighty cry, drowning out Shendu's mocking laughter, Jade's small frame easily closing the distance to land on the back of the dragon. Her hands pierced the hard scales as if they were non-existent, a ring of concentrated light around her wrists where the coating of the potion didn't cover stopped hard. Shendu let out a roar of pain and dropped Jackie to try and pull the offending human off him. Feeling like her hands were in thick jell-o, Jade tried to grab hold of something and something seemed to flow into her grasp. Holding tight, Jade pulled out the talisman, and yelling out to Jackie as she jumped away, narrowly avoiding a deadly back scratch, "Little Jade Horner pulls out a Dog."
As Shendu looked after her, Jackie took advantage of his distraction to jump on the demon's chest and pull out one more talisman, "Rat!"
Jumping clear himself, Shendu screamed again, "No!"
His body began hardening and his arms and legs retracted into his body as it lost its humanoid shape to become serpentine. Powerful coils that looked like they could wrap around and crush a Hummer looped around behind Shendu's stone visage to form an artistic disk exactly like the one Jackie had seen hanging on Valmont's wall only a few days ago, the remaining talismans now easily visible and residing in slots along the outer edge of the statue. The two let out a sigh of relief as the portal to the dragon's realm closed, despite the protests of the dragons on the other side. Letting out a roar in echo of their master, the gate closed on them without a sign it had ever existed previously.
Jade was glad that it was all over, but then the statue surprised her by showing it still had the ability to speak.
"I will not let this be the end of it!" Shendu snarled, "Even if it takes another 900 years, I will rise again and devour your descendants!"
Jade knew that the demon was likely to keep that promise, but there was nothing she could do about the future. The only thing she could change was what she did right now. Jade's hand went in her pocket and gripped a talisman. After everything this stupid demon had done, almost killing Jackie in front of her and endangering her parents, now he threatened her future. Well, Jade was done playing with this thing. Jade felt the talisman grip her back, and she knew without even looking that she had control of the Dragon Talisman now.
"Pssh. No Rat means you're just a statue, and no Dog means you're not immortal," Jade said as she focused her rage into the talisman and at the impotent statue. Shendu gave one last futile cry before the blast struck the statue and shattered it into rubble that flew in every direction.
Jade exalted in her victory and raised her hands in triumph when a feeling of weakness settled over her, "Woah, I think I've been up too long."
"Jade…!" Jackie's voice echoed.
It was so hard to keep her eyes open.
"We need to get out of here now."
Jade could hear some kind of rumbling noise; it was kind of upsetting, but maybe it would all be okay when she woke up. Jade felt like she was falling when a pair of strong arms wrapped around her.
"Bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day, bad day…"
Everything felt so comfortable being held in those arms. It couldn't possibly be bad.
When Jade opened her eyes again, she was in her room above Uncle's shop. Though it looked cleaner then Jade remembered leaving it last. Jade looked at the doll of Wonder Moose sitting on her dresser and studied it closely, trying to figure out if there was something different, but unable to place her finger on it. Unable to give the idea up, Jade threw the moose onto her bed and headed down the stairs. Jade wondered where Jackie and Uncle were when the building shook from an earthquake. It wasn't even the worst one Jade had experienced but for some reason the fact that not a single stack of books fell over, a precariously perched vase across the room with a design of bamboo shoots didn't rock, and the overhead lights didn't let down a fall of dust reinforced her sense that something was wrong.
With no sign of her guardians, Jade went back upstairs and turned on an old TV; the picture was distorted with lines of static, and the sound was off. Jade fiddled with the volume but nothing was solving that problem; maybe a speaker had blown since the last time she had watched. Jade would blame it on Uncle, except he spent so much of his time with the antiques and his books that Jade couldn't remember a time he ever sat in front of the TV with Jackie and her.
Moving the antenna did clear up the picture a little bit, so the broad bars of static had been minimized to thin lines and Jade could tell what she was watching. It appeared to be some movie she had never seen before. A dragon, humanoid like Shendu had been, was creeping through craggy terrain, keeping low and always within the depressions of the ground. It proved a wise decision as everything outside of a crevasse was covered by a giant firestorm that raced across the ground and filled the whole screen so that Jade thought the dragon would not escape unscathed, but it only blackened the ground with another layer of soot.
The dragon looked discouraged and like he might turn back, but shaking his head, the mythical creature climbed out of its hole and ran across the hard ground until he came across a large pit with lava boiling and spewing. The dragon looked with distaste as another lizard, looking like a massive iguana, emerged from the lava, a path of flames burning along its spine. The dragon attempted to take cover and hide, but it was too late for that and the lizard called the other out. The two began to converse, the lizard frequently laughing at the dragon until it heard something it didn't want to hear. It now appeared angry and, placing its mouth in the lava, it scooped it up and spat at the dragon. Jade wondered who she was supposed to root for as the battle begun. Maybe this was like a fight between Godzilla and King Kong – either way, the humans were the victims.
The dragon had been expecting that move and, throwing out his hand, the lava lost its heat, turning to stone even as flames were pulled out and compacted into a glowing lance of flame. The iguana attempted to dive into the lava but the lance pierced the ground in front of it and caused it to step back. The dragon leapt in to the air without wings and instead of falling to the ground he defied common wisdom and flew before coming down like a stone next to the still burning lance. Making as if to grab it and lift, the lance pulled out of the ground and aimed again at the lizard. The iguana seemed incredulous and panicked, but the dragon wouldn't hear of it. The lance shot forward again and this time pierced the iguana in the chest. The beast let out a gasp as the flames along its back went out and blood poured from its mouth. Coughing, it tried to pull the weapon out but the effort was in vain. Dying, it rushed at the dragon and tried to pierce the dragon with the other end of the deadly weapon, but he was too agile. The iguana fell to the ground; the dragon removed the lance with his magic and tossed it off into the distance. The dragon watched with interest as a giant pillar of flame rose high in to the air from the spot where the lance landed.
The dragon raised its arms into the air, blasts of flame erupting from his hands.
It was so bright that Jade had to turn her head away from the glare, and when she turned back, the screen was covered in static. She wondered if she had lost the signal and was about to change the channel, when she heard a familiar voice, "Uncle, something is wrong with Jade – ow!"
The sound seemed to be coming from a door in the back. Jade didn't remember a door being there. It was a brilliant shade of red that caused her to look at it long and hard. That was what was different when she woke up – everything had been black and white and shades of grey, and it wasn't right. Maybe she was in some sort of dream. Had that door even existed before Jackie had said anything? The longer Jade stood there, the more the color of the door began to fade.
"You destroyed the demon! Nobody told you to destroy the demon!"
Jade watched with interest as the frame around the door turned a vibrant green and the door regained its former sheen. Feeling she had nothing to lose, Jade opened the door. A bright light was shining on the other side, and everywhere the light touched the grey of the room turned to a natural color.
Jade opened her eyes, not realizing she had ever closed them, and found she was standing on the hill overlooking Shendu's palace. Blinking in confusion, she looked around and saw Uncle raving, "Yin and Yang are out of balance! This will make way for a new evil to take Shendu's place!"
Jade and Jackie's eyes met and they both smiled to see the other one was alright.
Looking back at the palace, Jade saw that portions of it had collapsed, a tower and a couple of sections of the walls, but on the whole it looked to be mostly intact. It just looked like it was properly showing its age.
The moment of shared contentment was gone when she turned back to look at Jackie and saw that he looked very troubled, "Jade, I know this is hard but I think it's time you returned to your parents."
Jade's good feelings over the victory evaporated like smoke, "Jackie, then I wouldn't get to go on adventures with you anymore."
"Would that really be such a bad thing?"
Jade had known this day might come; her parents had sent her to be with Jackie for only a year, but that was still a few months away. She thought she'd have a little more time, but here they all were in Hong Kong – she could be reunited with her parents in an hour's time, but everything that she had done with Jackie had been so cool. She had just helped save all of Asia and now he wanted her to go back to the boring life with her judgmental parents. She knew they cared for her and wanted what was best for her, but going back to that made her feel really sad.
Wrapping her arms around herself to hold back a chill that had nothing to do with the wind, Jade bowed her head, "For you."
Jade hoped Jackie would change his mind but he turned away from her and picked up Captain Black, who was lying down on the ground for some reason. Without her notice, Uncle rested his hand on her head. Jade looked up at the frail old man and saw his face was especially still.
"Jackie is a fool, trying to protect you."
"Uncle, couldn't you convince him to let me stay just a little longer?"
"Jade, you have talent for finding trouble and finding Jackie. Now come, let's get you back to your family."
The ride to the apartment building her parents lived at was a somber affair. They traveled by taxi, all sitting in the backseat, rubbing elbows while the sound of the latest pop band blasted over the radio. Jade began to notice familiar sites as they drew closer; there was the school she used to go to, there was that park where her mom had said that fields might be for running but she had to always stay in her sight. There was the restaurant where they burnt the rice and her dad had demanded a refund. It was all familiar and depressing. Letting out a sigh, she thought Jackie might try to cheer her up but he seemed to be committed to making this decision. Uncle wasn't going to help either. It was so unfair.
Taking the elevator to the twelfth floor, Jackie went to knock on the door and Jade grabbed at his arm, "Come on, Jackie. If we leave now, we can catch the flight back with Captain Black together."
Jackie shook his head, "I can't, Jade."
The door opened wide to reveal Jade's mother, "Cousin Jackie. What are you doing here? Are you visiting for the New Year celebration?"
"Yes, we were in the area for my work, and I thought it would be good to meet with you. It has been a long time since you've been able to see Jade after all."
"Oh yes," Jade's father nodded happily, "We get the letters and really enjoy Jade's calls every month. She tells such fantastic stories – I think she could grow up to be a fine writer some day. I think you've been a great role model for her and we really can't thank you enough for doing this."
"Yes, about that. She is doing so well that I think it would be better if you were to allow Jade to come back to live with you."
Jade could tell her parents knew something was up. It was short notice and out of the blue – they would have to question why Jackie would do such a thing.
"Is something the matter Cousin Jackie? I know the schools in America last for another couple months; wouldn't it be unwise to pull her out before the year is finished?"
"I'm afraid I can't answer that. My work has gotten very busy and Uncle is unable to keep up with Jade. I just think it would be best to return Jade to you. Ow!"
Jackie rubbed his forehead where Uncle had struck him with his two fingers, "Ai-yah! You think you can talk down Uncle's raising skills! I can take care of Jade!"
Jackie gave that look, the one that said "I'm just a normal man feeling so overwhelmed". Jade hated that look.
"Very well," Jade's father said, "We will not pressure you into saying more then you are able."
"I promise you Jade, I'll have your stuff sent back to you as soon as possible."
Jade wasn't going to say anything more, otherwise she thought she might start crying. She hugged Uncle goodbye and ran into her old room and locked herself in. Jade could faintly hear Jackie outside making excuses for her. This wasn't the way it should be. Jade knew her parents would probably be worried, wonder what had happened for such an early return to be necessary, but she didn't care about that.
Putting her pillow over her head, she drifted off to sleep.
Jade looked around at the desolate landscape, floating rocks in a blood-red sky fading to brown, a great abyss going down forever below her. Jade wondered where she was. Off in the distance, two floating islands the size of mountains crashed into each other before going off in different courses, the fragments broken off sharing the unnatural ability to float, marking the spot.
Nothing else was happening and Jade thought this was one of the most boring dreams she'd ever had. A grey speck in the distance caught her attention after what felt like hours. Whatever it was, it was getting closer and quickly.
Grey skin and red eyes with thick bushy eyebrows and three spikes coming out of its head, it had wings like a bat and black-clawed hands and feet. Its forearms were bulging with muscle, while everything from the shoulder to the elbow was thin. Its mouth was spread in a too wide grin, fangs showing, and it stroked its small beard, its long pointed ears shifting in concentration. Jade bet it could hear a pin drop.
"Hello Shendu. It's been a while."
Jade woke up in a sweat. "What was that?"